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Sacred Capital: Pierre Bourdieu and the Study of Religion

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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

This article offers a critical analysis of Pierre Bourdieu's work and its importance for the study of religion. Analysis and criticim of Bourdieu's theories with reference to the example of the Bāuls, a loose, eclectic tradition of wandering minstrels and self-proclaimed spiritual "madmen", which has flourished throughout Bengal (northeast India and Bangladesh) since at least the late nineteenth century, was chosen for two reasons: first, because much like Bourdieu, the Bāuls make frequent use of a "marketplace" metaphor to describe the larger realms of social interaction and religious discourse; second, because the Bāuls offer a powerful challenge to Bourdieu's work, demonstrating that there is perhaps far more room for subversion and critique of the dominant "social marketplace" than his model of society and culture seems to allow.


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